Sesame Workshop Vows Bias Training After Alleged Discrimination At Theme Park

Emily McWilliams
A Sesame Place character walks away from two girls.
instagram | @jodiii

Things aren't looking too sunny at Sesame Place in Philadelphia.

The theme park based on the popular preschool show is at the center of controversy after a family alleged they were the victims of discrimination. The family believes a park employee intentionally ignored their children because of their race and shared a now-viral video of the situation online.

A viral video posted by a woman on Instagram shows the alleged incident with an employee in a Rosita character costume at the Sesame Place theme park in Philadelphia.

Rosita Sesame Place character greeting fans at a parade.
instagram | @ jodiii

During a park parade, the character can be seen waving and giving out high fives to spectators along the parade route.

Two girls, who appear to be the children of the woman filming the incident, then approach Rosita for a hug.

Rosita Sesame Place character and two little girls at a parade.
instagram | @ jodiii

The character is seen shaking its head "no" and holding up its hands to make a "stop" gesture.

The woman filming the video shared this in her caption on Instagram:

"I’m going to keep posting this, because this had me hot. We were on our way out of Sesame Place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters. THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!"

The woman filming believes race was a factor in how the girls were treated.

Rosita character at Sesame Place walking away from two little girls.
instagram | @ jodiii

According to her recount of events, Rosita then proceeded to hug "a little white girl" after denying the two girls in the video any interactions or acknowledgement.

Since being posted on Instagram, the video has been viewed over 400,000 times.

Instagram comments.
instagram | @ jodiii

People online weighed in and shared their shock over the character seemingly ignoring the two little girls who were left looking confused over the situation.

Sesame Place has released a statement in response to the public's backlash.

In their statement posted on Instagram, Sesame Place said, "Our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms."

The park also said the "no" gesture made by the employee portraying Rosita was in response to someone in the crowd asking them to hold their child for a photo, which is against the park's policies.

However, the family isn't convinced by the park's explanation.

The family retained a lawyer to investigate and possibly sue the park. As part of the investigation, lawyer B’Ivory LaMarr is reviewing footage from similar incidents at Sesame Place

which surfaced online. The videos allegedly show children of color being ignored or mistreated by employees in character costumes.

One video shows a young child being pushed to the ground by a character.

"I'm not certain what would possess someone to push a child down like this, but this is completely unacceptable," says the voice-over in the video.

In response to the numerous videos and allegations made online against the park, Sesame Workshop announced enhanced bias training for its employees.

"Sesame Workshop is aware of the recent incident at Sesame Place Philadelphia, which we take very seriously. What these children experienced is unacceptable," the company said in a statement.

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